Objectives: The obese elderly are at increased risk of mortality, morbidity, and functional disability. In this study, we examined the prevalence of obesity and relationship between various anthropometric indices (AI) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors in the elderly.
Research methods and procedures: A stratified multistage clustered sampling scheme was used in the Elderly Nutrition and Health Survey in Taiwan during 1999 to 2000. 2432 non-institutionalized subjects (age, 72.8+/-9.4 years; BMI, 23.6+/-6.4 kg/m2) were recruited. The receiver operating characteristic analysis was used to compare predictive validity of CVD risk factors among various AI, including BMI, waist circumference (WC), and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR).
Results: The prevalence of obesity was 29.0% in men and 36.8% in women by obesity criteria for Asians (BMI>or=25 kg/m2) and 13.3% in men and 21.0% in women by the Taiwanese definition (BMI>or=27 kg/m2). Odds ratios of acquiring various CVD risk factors increased significantly with increment of WC, WHR, and BMI. The areas under the curve predicting metabolic syndrome were all <0.8. The cut-off values of WC corresponding to the highest sensitivity and the highest specificity in predicting various CVD risk factors were 86.2-88.0 cm in men and 82.0-84.0 cm in women, respectively.
Discussion: Obesity was prevalent in the Taiwanese elderly. WC was related to CVD risk factors to a greater extent than BMI and WHR. However, none of them alone was a good screening tool for CVD risk factors. Therefore, how to apply AI prudently to screen elderly for CVD risk factors needs further research.